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Obamas aren’t buying in Rancho Mirage, close friends say

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Apparently, they’ve never even looked

House with lots of grassy lawn in front
The former home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg at Sunnylands, where Obama has visited several times.
The Greater Southwestern Exploration Company | creative commons

In spite of persistent rumors to the contrary, Barack Obama and family won’t be settling down in Southern California anytime soon. At least, that’s what close friends Michael Smith and James Costos tell the Hollywood Reporter.

“They clearly like the desert, but they've never even looked for a house,” Smith says.

The couple owns a home in Rancho Mirage, which the former first family has visited frequently—inciting speculation that they are house hunting in the area nearly every time. Most recently, the Obamas spent their first few days out of the White House with Smith and Costos, and the president returned for a golf trip in February.

Smith, an interior designer, decorated the Oval Office during Obama’s tenure as president, while Costos, a television executive, was named US Ambassador to Spain shortly into Obama’s second term.

Rancho Mirage was a frequent destination for the president and his family even while in office. He made frequent use of the Sunnylands Estate, once owned by Walter and Leonore Annenberg, hosting frequent summits with world leaders at the A. Quincy Jones-designed modernist compound. The property has been visited by eight US presidents and is sometimes referred to as the West Coast’s Camp David.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports that Michelle Obama made a solo trip to the area this past September ignited a fresh set of rumors that the family was looking to buy in the area.

Obama wouldn’t be the first president to settle down in the Coachella Valley after leaving office. Gerald Ford lived in a Welton Becket-designed residence at Rancho Mirage’s Thunderbird Country Club from 1978 until his death in 2006.

The home owned by Smith and Costos is located nearby in Thunderbird Heights, and its existence may help explain why the Obamas aren’t in a hurry to make a purchase. Why bother with the hassles of home ownership when you have friends with an 11,000 square foot, Mayan-influenced modernist dream house? Smith tells the Reporter the house is “certainly not for sale.”

Obama's Palm Springs Hosts Shoot Down Rumors of First Family House-Hunting in the Desert [The Hollywood Reporter]

Where in Rancho Mirage are the Obamas headed? [Curbed LA]

Obamas rumored to be buying home in Rancho Mirage [Curbed LA]

No Way the Obamas Are Buying This House in Rancho Mirage [Curbed LA]